Sunday, December 09, 2007

day 3 - The Great Wall - 7 Nov 2006

On the third day of the tour, we went to the Summer Palace. Parts of it, including SuZjou street", and like many other places in BeiJing, was reconstructed after the British burned it down when they were an occupying force.

"Suzhou Street" by yewenyi [?]
Suzhou Street by yewenyi

Again we split up. I went with the girls on a walk around the lake as I have visited the temple complex in 1999 and I had seen the Bodhisattva's having sex. Though I do regret not going back and taking photos.

"the lake" by yewenyi [?]
the lake by yewenyi

At the very end we caught a boat back when we hit the massive crowds again at the north of the lake.

"tourists" by yewenyi [?]
tourists by yewenyi

After this, we packed our bags and headed off for one last dinner in Beijing. It was Vahid's birthday so we had a cake. Ewen sold his phrase book to one of the waitresses.

"purple birthday cake" by yewenyi [?]
purple birthday cake by yewenyi
"learning english" by yewenyi [?]
learning english by yewenyi

And then as the sun set, we headed off to Xian on the train.

"Beijing Station" by yewenyi [?]
Beijing Station by yewenyi

Sunday, November 18, 2007

1999 outside Beijing University

I was in a little department store. More like a chinese general store. A man said, you have to make up your mind. But, my mind was already made up. I had made the decision when in 1969. I just said it was already made up. The decision stands, unlike the one made in 1972 that was changed when I had previously been in Taipei that was changed. The change in one made it more imporatant that the other remained unchanged. I think that the nuns would still not approve.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

day 2 - The Great Wall - 6 Nov 2006

I have no idea what we did in the morning. I certainly do not appear to have taken any photos. In the afternoon we headed out to SiMaTai. It seems that this place has caused much confusion to cause people to think that I went to SiMaSai in Thailand. But that is another story.

This was my second visit to this location. I went there in 1999 and climed up to the right. It is when my vertigo struck back with a savage vengeance. In the image below it is the part of the wall in the distance. I was walking up the wall with no problems. Then we hit a part with no sides and with just a mound of rock. I turned around and saw the thousand foot drop and went week in the knees. I had to let the others continue. I could not go on. Two American men, coming back down the wall talked me down to a flat part. I thanked them and was very grateful.

"great wall" by yewenyi [?]
great wall

This time we headed up to the left. It was not without issues as a suspension footbridge had to be crossed and when I got further up I could not continue on the sections with no sides and had to wait for the others to return. Because it was a photography trip, Ewen arranged for us to be there at the best time of day to get the best light. Hence I have a nice set of images with great light.

"suspension bridge" by yewenyi [?]
suspension bridge

In the evening we stopped off at a restaurant en-route to Beijing and had a nice meal in a very steamy restaurant.

"Ordering Dinner" by yewenyi [?]
Ordering Dinner

Saturday, October 20, 2007

want or need?

When in BeiJing in 1999, I was wandering back from the CBD to my accommodation at BeiJing University. Rather than go the direct route, I headed off to one side to see what was there. I did not know it at the time, but this was supposedly a more disreputable part of town.

I came to an intersection. There was a group of 5 people, 4 men and one woman. They were standing in the center of the road at a trolley bus stop. They saw me coming and there was some odd body language in their reaction. Perhaps they were surprised. As I approached the woman cupped her hands, like she was holding some testicles and said what I thought was you ma? This confused me greatly and the quickly scattered.

With reflection I think she probably said yao ma? That is need? rather than have? In characters the difference is much clearer.
  • 要嗎 need/want?
  • 有嗎 have?

Friday, October 05, 2007

A first day for Photography - 5 November 2006

The next day was officially the first day of the tour. In the morning we headed off to the Drum tower and spent the morning wandering the Hutongs. The tower was quite impressive and we were there for a session on the drums. It also has good views of the city. From here it is clear that BeiJing is donut shaped. There is the old city, surrounded by the old suburbs and then by ring of modern high rises. I was quite impressed from up here about how the development had been handled on the macro scale.

"group meeting" by yewenyi [?]
group meeting

"bang the drum" by yewenyi [?]
bang the drum

We wandered through the hutongs. I do not remember which bit I visited in 1999, but the 1999 version was alive and vibrant. Markets and people everywhere. Maybe different parts are different. Maybe the decline of these places as people move out is the cause. Now the place was a bit deserted and the famous wind and dust of BeiJing were in full force. There were lines of rickshaws for the tourist trade and people selling food. Before I left many people here in Australia commented on how it was a tragedy that the government was pulling down the hutongs. But I do not feel this way. I certainly feel that some should be kept as a historical zone. But life in the hutongs is not pleasant. Mostly families live in one or two room houses around a courtyard. There is a communal toilet for the courtyard. There is no running water and the houses have no kitchens. So they eat out all the time, which is the source of china's well know and excellent cuisine. Also the lack of fridges means that it is a more effective method of suppling food to have a central restaurant using freshly made produce in significant quantity. It minimizes the need for storage.

"down into the depths" by yewenyi [?]
down into the depths

In the afternoon Ewen and I went to the Temple of Heaven to have a private photography lesson. I had visited the temple in 1999 and remember being generally unimpressed. But this time it was much more interesting. They have spent a lot of money on repainting it and doing other restorations. So it was the opposite of the hutong experience. The glory of Imperial China had been restored.

"Hall for prayer for good harvests" by yewenyi [?]
Hall for prayer for good harvests

In the eventing we went to see the acrobatics. I was not really interested in going as I was expecting a dull tourist driven experience. But I was pleasantly surprised. While it is clearly set up for the tourists, it was a good sampler of the different dance styles. Kind of like a compilation CD is for music of an era.

"Acrobatic plate twirling" by yewenyi [?]
Acrobatic plate twirling

Afterwards we retired to a Tibetan restaurant in the diplomatic district. It was a bit americanized, but we had Yak. Hm, I do not think Yak is one of my favorite meats. But maybe it was the preparation. Unlike the others I really enjoyed the music.

"Tibetans" by yewenyi [?]

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Police and Courts

When I was in China in 1992, there was quite a lot of discussion in the English Language press about the lack of a judiciary. In China the police were responsible for arresting you and then prosecuting you and sentencing you. As you can imagine it is a quite unsatisfactory state of affairs that will not only lessen the rule of law, it is subject to endless corruption and abuse of power worries. I suppose for a one party state, abusing power is part and parcel of the ruling system so it suits them to be this way. However, China at the time was looking at a way out. In my subsequent travels I did not come across any information as to what changes had been made, if any in this system.

It is with dismay that I note that there is great disdain in the police force, media and some major political elements here in Australia for the Judiciary and rule of law. These people are leading us down a path that will allow one party rule as exists in China.

Friday, September 14, 2007

living in a land with no fridges

For a while now, I have been providing flashbacks to my visit to China in 1999, but I also visited in 1992. Back then China was just emerging from the years of communist rule and the economy was starting to develop into a market economy. But it still had a long way to go.

In Australia we always take note of the live fish in the windows of Chinese restaurants, and some snobby Australians turn their noses up at this tradition. They think it is distasteful. But I found in China very quickly that in fact it is a good sensible way of knowing that you are not going to die of food poisoning. In a country where there is no refrigeration and food is food fresh, rather than pickled or salted, it is vital to know that your food is fresh. There can be no fresher food than that has been recently slaughtered. So any enterprising restaurant owner will go a long way to prove that their food is fresh.

For seafood proving that the food is fresh means showing that it is still alive and looking healthy. For meat, it meant having the meat proudly on display on a counter and letting the patron see the food taken away to be cooked.

Now that there are fridges and more importantly the electricity to run them, this presentation method is much less common.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I speak occasionally with Australians who think that the Communist government changed the name from Pei King to Bei Jing when these are both different romanization of the same name. They think that the Communist Chinese government changed the name for the same propaganda reasons as the Vietnamese changing the name of Saigon to Ho Chi Minh city or The Soviets the name St Petersburg to Stalingrad. This shows little understanding for Chinese History. Here is a little excerpt from Wikipedia:
Peking is the name of the city according to Chinese Postal Map Romanization, and the traditional customary name for Beijing in English. The term originated with French missionaries four hundred years ago and corresponds to an older pronunciation predating a subsequent sound change in Mandarin from [kʲ] to [tɕ][citation needed]. ([tɕ] is represented in pinyin as j, as in Beijing), and is still used in some languages (as in Dutch, German, Hungarian, Polish and Spanish).

In China, the city has had many names. Between 1368 and 1405, and again from 1928 [1] and 1949, it was known as Beiping (; Pinyin: Beiping; Wade-Giles: Pei-p'ing), literally "Northern Peace". On both occasions, the name changed — with the removal of the element meaning "capital" (jing or king, 京) — to reflect the fact the national capital had changed to Nanjing, the first time under the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and the second time with the Kuomintang (KMT) government of the Republic of China, so that Peking was no longer the capital of China.

The Communist Party of China reverted the name to Beijing (Peking) in 1949 again in part to emphasize that Beijing had returned to its role as China's capital. The government of the Republic of China on Taiwan has never formally recognized the name change, and during the 1950s and 1960s it was common in Taiwan for Beijing to be called Beiping to imply the illegitimacy of the PRC. Today, almost all of Taiwan, including the ROC government, uses Beijing, although some maps of China from Taiwan still use the old name along with pre-1949 political boundaries.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Back to BeiJing

Back in Bei Jing, I met up with the tour group the first evening in the city. It was our first day together as a tour group. Several people had been in BeiJing for a few days. I will introduce the people over the next few posts. The tour I was on was organized by my friend from Melbourne, Ewen Bell and run by Grasshopper Tours. The tour nominally includes 8 people, Ewen and out guide.

I had spent the day wandering south through the city with Elliot, one of my co-travelers and room mate for the first few days. We had lunch south of the BeiJing railway station. I ordered hot and sour soup, but while good, it was not the real thing. Instead is was egg flower soup, with chicken and pepper. I also had a bit of difficulty with the difference when ordering between two bowls of soup and one bowl of soup with two bowls. Ah well, that's what happens when your Chinese is not so good.

In the hutongs south of the station we came across a octagonal church. The man there could not explain in English what type of church it was. He wanted 100 元, but at first I did not understand what he wanted 100 of and then decided that was a bit ridiculous. We moved on.

"church" by yewenyi [?]

Next we came to the southern wall. The tower here was the one attacked in the Allied invasion during the boxer revolt. The Chinese are still furious with the amount of damage caused to national artifacts at this time by the invading British. Anyway I am guessing that the tower was rebuilt after the war. Further along the wall is the hole in the city wall made to let the railway line through when the British built a railway line from here to the north.

"tower" by yewenyi [?]

We wandered back to the city and met up with the others. We met in the foyer. Everyone was relaxed and it was a nice group of people. First things were about getting to know each other and to understand the organization. We went out for our first dinner, PeiKing duck in a hutong restaurant.

"restaurant" by yewenyi [?]

Saturday, August 25, 2007

taxis in China

Like everything else Chinese taxis have come a long way and have a long way to go. I have a natural aversion to taxis, which I will not go into here. But, one of the problems with taxis in China always was that they ran cartels. So in 1992, the taxis at a train station would suddenly beef up the prices when a train arrived, even the buses would to this. When I left GuangZhou airport, in 1992, I baulked at being charged a flat 50 元. They would not use the meter. At the time the average wage in China was 600 元. So I walked out of the airport to the main highway. Here, at the bus stop I met with a group of Chinese university students. They took me under their wing and when the intercity bus illegally stopped to pick us up to earn a little more money that made the conductor only charge me 1 元.

In 1999 in Beijing the situation had changed a lot and generally the drivers would use their meters. However, on leaving the Summer Palace, we found that again there was a cartel going and they wanted to charge 50 元 for the trip back to 天安門. The others went in their cab, and after the cab left the car park the driver agreed to use the meter. He said that he could not do this while the others were watching. We went a block away onto the main highway and flagged down a cab. The passing cab driver used the meter.

Then in 2006, we used cabs a lot as I was traveling in a group. The cabs always used their meters. Now all they need to do is actually learn where things in the city are located. We spent ages in cabs with the driver on the mobile talking to someone else trying to work out how to get to where we wanted to go.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Back in 1999 the first time I visited Beijing, I stayed at the 北京大學 on the recommendation of a man from Taiwan in Xian. I walked there from the underground station. However, it was about 500 meters further than I thought. When at what I though was the right spot I came across some men with submachine guns at a gate in a place I was not allowed. I walked up to ask if this was the 北京大學. It turns out that they were soldiers. There is a sad law that says that soldiers cannot talk to foreigners. At first they tried to wave me away. Then they pointed in the direction I needed to go. I went on my way.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Aparently it is my fault

I am diverging here. Back to my first trip to Beijing in 1999. Just before I arrived in China, the Americans bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia. All through China I had been asked my nationality. (你是渼國人嗎) Every day on the TV were pictures of the dead being brought home with patriotic music. The only thing I have seen like it is what was on Australian TV when Stuart Diver was saved from the rubble of Threadbo. In fact it was so identical that they probably were in breech of copyright. But back to my story. This woman came up to me crying, beseeching me as to why I had committed such a crime. I was glad it was the only time the happened.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Beijing and terrorists

It has been a while. I have been uploading photos, but not writing my blog. This is because I have much to say, but need time to consider how to say it. So I will break it down into bits that are more manageable.

On the day I arrived in Beijing, I headed off to the hotel from my train. I was sharing a room with this fellow called Eliot. (and I appologise now for all the times I have misspelled it.) Eliot turned out to be a terrific fellow. We spent a few hours talking as he has the problem that people such as myself who travel on their own for a while in a country where they do not speak the language have. There is no one with whom you can hold a conversation.

I will digress for a moment for a story of a previous trip. When I traveled in Taiwan, I spent about 10 days wandering in a clockwise direction around the island. I think I was in Tai-Jung or Tai-Dung, I cannot remember which. I had visited a local Buddhist temple and had quite an interesting, but short conversation with one of the worshipers. The worshiper wanted to know if I thought it was OK for there to be multiple religions. I was stunned, and of course said yes. After that I was welcome in their temple. Later I discovered the reason for their wariness. I was approached by an American and some Taiwanese who were very friendly. They introduced themselves and invited me along to have lunch with them. It turned out to be at McDonald's. I gladly accepted the offer as I was desperate to be able to have a conversation. They turned out to be Mormons. They were very helpful, but I could only think that they must be the cause of the Buddhist's concern. Is it not sad that religions refuse to be able to get along.

Back to Eliot, He was a very patriotic American. He felt that America was misunderstood and that it was his role in life to help fix misconceptions that people like George Bush were creating about his country. He lived close to New York and then the events of 911 were quite close to his heart, and rightly so.

I have always had a problem with the statements that the Americans make, like, never happened before and everything has changed, and so on. To me it is just more of the same stupidity, people, often but not always, religious ones who want to change the world by killing everyone or making them follow their religion. You see, when I was little I lived in Singapore. We had many relatives who lived (and still do) in Malaysia. In Malaysia there were race riots. People would walk into places like cinemas and chop people up with machetes. People (in Singapore) would say that you should not go to Malaysia as it was a dangerous place, in the same was as we are advised these days not to visit dangerous places by our government.

I would suggest that some of these people committing violent acts, were from similar if not the same groups who preach violence that resulted in 911. However, I have not researched this, hence I cannot say this for certain. For all of my life I have been afraid of such actions. Up until recently I could not talk about such things without crying. I was very put out when the Americans (and Australians for that matter) reacted in such a was as to say that this was new. They have lived fortunately violence free lives, and this is something I would wish on all people (that is: to live a violence free life). But these things are not new and some of us have suffered with such violent behavior for a long time. And what I have been through is only mild and insignificant compared to what others suffered. What I think is that this is a new phase of violence. The techniques for the violence have certainly changed, and the targets are new, but the underlying causes are the same.

I am certain that my words are not as well crafted as they could be. I have never been good at the English language. I will probably come back and edit it to improve the wording and structure. I hope there are no glaring errors that will lead to misunderstanding or misinterpretation, but I needed to write it down.

Anyway, I think most of my holiday had a lighter note to it, and was not concerned to such an extent to man's inhumanity.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Harbin to Beijing ( 哈尔滨 - 北京 )

Well I traveled on the overnight train from Harbin. I had decided to travel soft sleeper. For those of you who are confused by this, in China is was politically unwise for class reasons, to have separate classes for the wealthy and powerful while everyone else had to travel in cattle class. So on Chinese trains, there is soft sleeper and hard sleeper. Soft sleeper is first class. There are 4 beds to a cabin. Hard sleeper is second class there are 6 sleepers to a section and no doors or walls (apart from between the beds). Normally in China I have traveled hard sleeper. However, I had decided as I had some expensive equipment with me to travel soft sleeper. So I ordered my bed at the station when booking my ticket. I took a lower bunk. In the future I think I will travel on the upper bunk.

Arriving at the station, I spent a while waiting for the train. In the end I got on the train. The train was full of first class carriages, and there were many of them (at least 10) and there were black Mercedes arriving on the platform, to allow their occupants off onto the train while only having to walk less than 5 meters. This is not a side of China I normally see. I shared my compartment with three very smartly dressed business women. There was a man who spoke English. We had a short conversation and then he left the train. So I was on my own from a language point of view. It is good to see that the Chinese do not have the same sexist hangups that many Australians have about mixed traveling. I would strike this bias in a few days from the Americans.

The train even had a power point (220 V Australian style) and each bed had it's own TV and we each had a pair of head sets. When browsing the dozen channels, I came across a movie with Americans singing. I though - great, a movie in English. However, it turned out that only the singing was not dubbed. Everything else was dubbed.

The next day after a very smooth trip, I arrived in Beijing in the morning.

Harbin Railway Station

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Harbin (哈尔滨)

With my illness I have not really been in the right frame of mind for posting. Harbin was the last place where I was traveling on my own. It was a place where my use of Singaporean English again clashed with Australian English on Flickr and elsewhere. I had to laugh. In a way, it was also where the little honeymoon with the Chinese came to an end.

To start with, the subject of spitting. When traveling in China in 1992/1993, I always felt that, while the Chinese spit in every day life, that some forms of spitting were meant to be hostile. I think in Harbin I confirmed this. Of all the cities I have visited so far, Harbin was by far the most old world Chinese city. I had at least two rounds of hostile spitting. (Hostile in that they disapprove.)

In Harbin I also felt like I was in Victorian England. Why? Because the three levels of the Chinese economy were in full force at the same time. I can imagine that in Victorian England, the upper class, middle class and lower class structure was like this.

When in the hotel, I received several phone calls. I could head the phone ringing in the other rooms. Clearly these people were calling around every room, soliciting their business. As I could not hold a conversation with them, I could only guess the nature of the business they were soliciting.

Finally, I was sick. It was cold in Harbin, and in sympathy, I caught a cold. Luckily my room had ADSL Internet access. I was unable to set it up with the instructions from the front desk and in the end a man came to help me set it up. Between us we got it to work, but it was like the blind leading the blind.

babushka dolls

Friday, January 05, 2007

Shenyang (沈阳)

dragonsI traveled by bus from Dalian to Shenyang. I stopped at Shenyang for two reasons. One it was half way to Harbin and being a major transportation hub, a good place to stop-over. The second reason was that it had a palace that the Manchurian empire built before conquering China and moving their palace to Beijing.

When I arrived I was a little worried. Normally I am surrounded by women wanting to sell me hotel accommodation. This did not happen. So I stopped to purchase a map. Then out of the blue, a woman arrived and all was OK. She took me to a very hard to find hotel across the road from the train station. It was hard to find because I had to go through a restaurant, through a dark, water covered corridor and up the only working lift to the 8th floor. The room numbering was strange. There only seemed to be rooms with the digits 0, 4 and 8.

That afternoon I went for a wander around the area I was staying. I had another of those, if only I spoke more Chinese incidents. This woman said to me - bu shr er, which as far as I can tell means not is 2. But then maybe I do not understand. I also had the man with the GPS incident later in the day. I also went and purchased my bus ticket to Harbin. I was having difficulties with the day and the woman at the counter just froze up when she realised I do not speak much Chinese. So I said, jintian, mingtian and then looked hopeful. Luckily the man behind said hwotian. Which means the day after tomorrow. That was when I wanted to travel by bus.

The next day I wandered off down to the Imperial Palace. I spent many hours there, and I think it is much better than the forbidden palace in Beijing.

The next day I travelled by bus to Harbin. The bus was much older. They filled the under-bus storage and back half of the bus with cartons, so I had to have my bag with me on my seat. I was there early and was able to sit directly behind the driver. Halfway to Harbin we made an unscheduled stop to unload the boxes and then later made another stop to pick someone up. With all of this we were over an hour late arriving in Harbin and the sun set as I arrived.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dalian - (大连)

After the overnight trip on the Dain ferry, I arrived in Dalian. It was quite a surprise. A very modern Chinese city. But still incredibly Chinese. I had decided that I needed a few days to get my bearing in China, even though I had been there twice before. Firstly I wandered to see how much the banking system had evolved. I was having trouble believing that it had become so modern so quickly. In the end it took three attempts to find an ATM that believed it talked to a foreign network to work. I also took out so much money (about $400) that I easily had enough, with what I had brought from Korea for the next three weeks of travel. (Though for the tour all my accommodation and travel were paid for.)

Dalian was a great place. These gay guys helped me find an Internet cafe. (网芭 Ithink) Initially they said it was Y1 per hour but it turned out to be Y2 (about $0.25). I found a cinema that had advertising for an interesting looking movie, but it was never open.

While traveling through the labour park (劳动公园), to get up to the TV tower, this person said g'day. He turned out to be from Balkum Hills and was living there with his Chinese wife. She was from Dalian. They had two girls, born in Australia. They were much more concerned with the simple task of purchasing a bus ticket than I, and she went to the bus terminal to check it out. They called me on the phone to explain the arrangement.

The next day I wandered off to the Russian part of town. Like many places in Northern China, Dalain owes much of it's existence to when it was part of Russia. It also had a strong Japanese influence. The Russian town was interesting, but mostly consisted of Russian buildings full of Russian traders selling Russian goods. It had the first KTV I had seen. I would not find out what they were for another two weeks.

The people in Dalian were generally friendly. They call it the HK of the north. I think this is an apt description. The people are friendly and helpful, but also generally busy and do not have much time.

On the second full day, I went down to the Modern museum. I wanted to go to a Qing museum, but the people in the tourist information center did not know where it was. They had to make several calls and then explained that I had to catch two buses. I was not confident with the buses and decided that the one bus trip journey to the modern museum was more the go. The museum was excellent It had many great displays and I pretty much had it to myself. I then wandered down to the sea front. As you can see from the photos it has more of a European feeling than a Chinese feeling.

On my fourth morning, I caught the bus to Shenyang. The buses in china have improved by an almost infinite amount. When I first traveled on an intercity bus we traveled from Chungching to Leshan. We put our bags on the floor to cover over the holes to reduce the wind. It was a classic old rust heap complete with chickens on the roof. They would overcharge anytime they could, lie about where they were going and the was a fight between the conductor and the passengers when the Chinese passengers were told that they would not go to a town they said they were going to go to. Now the buses are modern, clean and efficient. The chairs were vinyl, made to look like leather. It left on time and they now have motorways to travel along. It is a completely different experience. In many ways it is better than the train.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Seoul (서울)

I returned at the end of my time in Korea to Seoul. I had one night there and then caught the ferry form Incheon to Dalian. I had organised to have dinner with the people from work. However, I was having trouble with the emails. The work email system sends emails from my main email account directly to the deleted mail box. So it took a while before we were able to contact each other. Then, when I tried to call on the phone, it turned out that my mobile could not make calls in Korea. I do not know why. The sms system sometimes worked. So I went hunting for a public phone. At first I could only find ones that needed cards. The shops I went into had run out of cards. In the end I found a coin machine in the tourist information center in Insadong. So I had dinner with two of our people in the Seoul office. It was a good night and as always when with locals, I tried things I did not even know existed, like a kind of rice wine that is milky white. (Maybe this explains the milk fizzy soft drink... I wonder.)

The next day was a quite day. I just went down to the ferry terminal and caught the ferry.

Man with a hammer.

Guinsa (구인사)

Well I managed to miss Guinsa in my previous posting. I traveled by bus through the mountains to this Buddhist retreat. It had been a secondary destination on my list of places I wanted to see. But with the low lake levels making ferry travel a bit more difficult and a high recommendation from some Australians I met in Gyeongju, I decided to take the bus trip out there. I started early as I wanted to get back to Danyang in time to see the cave. I suppose I was just another tourist. I wandered up the mountain, mostly keeping to myself. I wandered all the way to the top of the mountain behind the temples. There were many women walking up there and small outdoor temple with some priests at the top. I came back down for the lunch and to return. I waited half an hour for the restaurant to open at 11:30 AM. When I was waiting for the food trays, I was noticed and they arranged for a woman to come over and have lunch with me and talk to me. However we only had a short conversation and I was on my way.